8 Steps to Pass VMware VCP Certifications
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VMware Certified Professional
Getting base level VMware certification used to be straightforward. There used to be one certification, one certification 150,000 of us achieved. Apparently VMware thought this might be oversimplifying certifying their entire product suite. They are probably correct; there may have been some revenue talk in there as well, maybe.
The “regular” VCP became VCP-DV, DV being Datacenter Virtualization. They added the VCP-DT (DeskTop) some time ago to specialize in VMware View knowledge. Most recently they added the VCP-IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) to certify people in vCloud Director. That's three different tracks to measure against and they really were needed. Now you can clarify your profiles or resumes your skills to a greater degree. If you are a VDI specialist your accreditations can now reflect that, same goes for cloud. In a way, it is hard to not see VCP-DV as “more basic,” but that's not entirely accurate – I would refer to it more as a “core” designation while the others are more specific. It is a requirement to the DT track, and can be used as a pre-requisite for the IaaS track as opposed to taking another course.
So, why DT? Well maybe you want to move in to the hot and growing virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) roles. Maybe you currently look after one now and want to validate your skill set. The skills to maintain, administer and design VDI are finally recognized. Prior to the desktop track you could explain to someone you had VDI knowledge but there was no real way to demonstrate that – well now you do!
Cloud? Everyone is talking cloud. They are usually talking about different things as well. VCP-IaaS is specific to operating a vCloud Director cloud. It's truly the hottest thing going right now in terms of virtualization. This skill set is hard to find. Putting this certification on your resume will garner instant recognition in the industry. Am I telling you to take it? No. If you are interested in a career among the clouds you should consider it though. This path is, at this time, fairly diverged from the desktop path in terms of technology. That's why I said I'm not telling you to take it. You can have a very healthy career both in infrastructure and VDI and not certify in cloud.
The nice thing about the VCP paths is all the exams are the same basic format; death by multiple choice. There is the odd drag-and-drop style question you may run into; it's essentially a different kind of multiple choice question. An example of this is when you are given a question, have 5 options on the left and have to drag them in to 3 slots on the right. All of the VCP exams are scored out of 500 and you must achieve a score of 300 to pass. Not all questions are equal, but VMware won't tell anyone the secret sauce for which ones are worth more. It's safe to assume the drag-and-drops are worth a bit more, but as to which multiple choice question is worth more than another is not known. There are usually 80-100 multiple choice questions. The number will vary on the VCP type, which exact version of exam and perhaps which way the wind is blowing.
So, now you may ask “That's great information, Matt, but what should I do to actually get started in VMware certifications?” That's a great question, and I will give you my advice – if you are new go for the DV. It's the basis for the other two and really is an important topic to understand to be successful in the other technologies. If you are one of those that already have your VCP-DV and are interested in the other tracks, the procedure below is the same minus the course pre-req.
- Taking the VCP-DV requires that you take a course. Your options are below and really are dependent on your own level of comfort. You really can't go wrong with the Install, Configure, and Manage course.
- VMware vSphere: Install, Configure, Manage [V5.0]
- VMware vSphere: Fast Track [V5.0]
- VMware vSphere: Optimize and Scale [V5.0]
- Download the blueprint, this is available on the VMware site and gives and overview of what topics will be tested against.
- Study the blueprint; I made this a separate note to emphasize the importance. Don't just download and peruse the blueprint – study it!
- Read the documents listed in the blueprint – there will be a bunch. Try your best to review them all.
- Read/watch/listen some more! There are many great resources out there to assist you. Trainsignal has some fantastic courses, there are vBrownBags that you can listen too, and more blogs and books than you can shake a stick at. I know this sounds like a lot, but this will assist in your day to day activities as an admin as well as help you prepare for the exam.
- Practice. Get a lab going somewhere – whether that be at work, at home or a buddy's house. VMware is good at testing practical knowledge that is easiest to come by with practice. Try to do all the things you have previously read, watched or listened to.
- Relax. By this time you have got this!
- Write the exam. Get a good night sleep. No late night cramming. Relax and just get it done.
The last point I want to re-emphasize– just get it done. Do not fear the exam. Prepare for it and you will not have any problems. Do not procrastinate; once you make the commitment to attend the course follow through with achieving the certification. It is very easy to let this slip off your radar and just go about your daily routine. The point of achieving this exam is not just the letters you can append after your name in your email signature. The point is to increase your knowledge and improve your skills; it's as much the journey as the destination. Reward yourself for your hard work with a fancy certificate and free copy of VMware Workstation (your VCP prize from VMware).